Institutional Christianity has always been tied up over and repressive to issues of human sexuality. This stemmed from its move into a dualistic Greek thinking world in the second century that identified flesh and bodies with sinfulness while extolling souls and spirits so pure and holy. In time denying the flesh or the desires of the body came to be identified with Christianity. Later the Church declared that the holy life was the sexless life and so virginity was the pathway to holiness and celibacy was the mark of the holy or priestly life. A wide variety of negative things flowed out of this, including the negativity toward family planning, negativity toward a married priesthood, negativity toward women who were defined as “temptresses” if they were not virgins and the sense that sex was somehow dirty or unclean. For years, women had to go through a ceremonial cleansing after childbirth before they could return to the Church. During the Middle Ages, cathedral choirs were normally made up of men and boys because menstruating women in the choirs might pollute holy places with their unclean menses.
I think it is also fair to say that institutional Christianity’s negativity toward homosexual people and even the outbreak of priestly abuse of young boys that has drained the resources of many part of the Roman Catholic Church in paying off lawsuits is one more illustration that unhealthy and sometimes violent expressions of sexuality always
result from the repression of healthy sexuality.
Once these negative attitudes are present in institutional Christian life, any attempt to change the cultural attitude is defined as immoral. So nations and states have made it difficult to oppose laws that when they were enacted reflected that distortion of the dominant religious
Today, efforts to teach sex education in public school are opposed by an unholy alliance of traditional Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestant fundamentalists. The current administration in Washington, bowing to the pressure of its “religious right” supporters, had advocated the teaching of abstinence instead of sex education. It has been a colossal failure, as statistics reveal. It has been about as effective in curbing sexual activity as the “Just say No” campaign was in controlling drug use. This administration has also refused to fund international family planning clinics around the world for the same reason.
I do see a new day dawning in America on these and many other issues.